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All around me are familiar faces
Worn out places, worn out faces ...
Hide my head I want to drown my sorrow
No tomorrow, no tomorrow
Tuesday, June 5 :: Late evening

Filius had tried to teach them all to duel.

If worse had come to worst, and the less-skilled teachers who were to wait in their respective Houses' common rooms with the Founders' last-ditch protective measures were forced to pull down the wrath of the castle upon anyone not within one of the four sanctuaries — they had to be ready to take on any Death Eater who might have penetrated, because there'd be no one else left to protect the students.

The dueling master's calm, measured instructions ran through Vera's head, but she disregarded them while waiting for the Aurors to arrive.

If the thing she held at wandpoint so much as twitched, she'd have no great need of skill or nuance.

Eyes black with fear and rage watched for the right moment to call forth the Killing Curse.
"OK, professor, the authorities are here. Everything's going to be all right, and you're going to lower your wand for me."

Tonks hadn't brushed the ashes from the Floo off her robes, and she had a streak of soot on one cheek as she tried both to assess and defuse the situation.

The proprietor of the teashop shifted nervously behind the Auror, but Tonks hadn't had time to reassure the wizard who'd called her here — apparently on Vector's instructions. Tonks hoped the old man wouldn't do anything hasty and kept her focus on the wand and the witch holding it.

"Why don't you let me handle this, professor?" The Auror's words were laced with a Calming Charm. "You don't have to worry, he won't be getting away."
The tip of Vector's wand wavered and then was lowered, but her attention never wavered from the "man" she'd been alarmed by.

The moment you allow the fae the slightest opening, that's when you're lost.

"Arrest him," Vera demanded in a low voice. "He's one of them, the ones I told you about."

She tucked her wand away for now and tilted her chin up in defiance.

"You shouldn't have come back here. Whatever you're planning — you are going to fail."

I swear to you, you will regret this.
All he'd wanted was a warm drink before heading back to the hotel, and now Philip Parish found himself being threatened by some sort of bloodthirsty harridan.

He'd been somewhat relieved when the call for authorities had gone up — the Aurors could help this poor witch along to St. Mungos for her own good — until the cavalry had arrived and had turned out to be a seeming adolescent with a pink Puffskein on her head.

This is what came of leaving the cities for the countryside.

"I'm sorry, madam, but I haven't the faintest idea what you're talking about. I've not stepped foot in this town before today."

Surely visiting in and of itself didn't count as a crime — although Philip was beginning to think that perhaps it should be.
After Professor Vector had come by the office to file a report against the fae, Tonks had tracked down Daily Prophet photos of the visitors from last summer. None had really been in focus — apparently the photographer had been a bit ... distracted. Still, they were good enough likenesses for Tonks not to dismiss Vera's claims.

"Perhaps not, sir, but if you'll just bear with me for a mo."

Tonks called back to Mr. Smethley, thanked him for his patience and asked him to come closer so she could ask him if he recognized the new guy without the other two overhearing. At the proprietor's quiet confirmation, her eyes flicked over the stranger assessingly.

"I think we'll move this to the station and leave Mr. Smethly to close his shop in peace, shall we? If you'll both just hand over your wands ..." Tonks collected them both and herded everyone carefully toward the Floo.

"Professor, if you'll wait in the waiting room, Mr ..." She waited for the other man to supply his name. "Mr Parish and I will have a chat in the next room over."
Vera did as she was bid, and sat for what seemed like hours in the waiting room at the Aurors station. The portraits on the wall had opened one eye and then gone back to napping in their frames; she was alone in the antiseptic silence that was a governmental building after hours.

She folded her hands primly over one knee to wait. Only the white skin stretched taut over her knuckles betrayed anything out of the ordinary.

My wand; how does she expect me to be safe here without it?

Vasily had also carried a wand with him, yet from what Vera had seen the fae didn't need them at all.

Camouflage? To trick us into thinking they're human?

As if we'd make that mistake twice.

Phantom sounds occasionally attracted Vector's notice; she'd start, convinced Finvar or Maev would step gloatingly through the door, only to realize that she'd heard nothing at all.
"And while there are several other names I could give you to help confirm that I am in fact human, I'm quickly losing my patience with this farce."

Philip brushed an infitesimal spot of lint from his lapel and continues.

"In fact, I'm rather interested in what you intend to do about that witch out there. Threats and slander are frowned upon in this town as they are in the rest of the nation, are they not?"
Philip Parish. Architect and structural psychometrist with a leading London firm. Schooled in Rome. Just off a project in Moscow and in Hogsmeade for a consultation with a development consortium with extensive holdings in the town.

Probably human.

Definitely snide at times, at least when it came to ill-considered remarks about shape-shifters and how he wasn't one of those, either.

Not that Tonks blamed the man for being upset — being randomly accused of crimes that would get you thrown into Azkaban for life would make anyone tetchy.

"Well, you could certainly file a complaint, Mr Parish, but I don't think the law will be coming down too hard on a frightened woman who was trying to turn a suspect in to the authorities and made an honest mistake, you know? The resemblance is very close; it's my opinion she did the right thing."

Tonks pushed the file she'd been looking through to the side; her quill remained in position to take dictation.

"I know it isn't fair, but this other guy apparently didn't make himself too popular around here. Just be careful, and if you get into any trouble, I'll come running."
Lovely. Some slow-witted Neanderthal mistakes me for this mysterious — and apparently handsome — master criminal and I'm to rely on you? Will your hair be frightening them away on my behalf?

Philip raised an eyebrow, being too well-bred to roll his eyes, and acquiesced.

"Oh, very well. Am I free to go now, or are there other absurdities to accuse me of?"
Tonks let the man snipe all he wanted as she led him out of the station to freedom. Just as long as he didn't raise his voice and freak out the woman in the waiting room, grousing seemed fair enough to her.

Go to your hotel and get your work done quickly. That might be best for everyone.

She watched Parish walk down the pavement until he turned a corner and was lost from view, then squared her shoulders.

"Professor Vector?"
The slow sweep of the door opening had nearly stopped her heart, and Vera castigated herself for not being ready for anything — if it were the fae, and they were back, perhaps she could not in fact do anything to defeat them but by Hecate she could go down fighting.

It was just the Auror, however, come to give her back her wand and tell her that Vasily was not Vasily and he'd been let go.

Vera was sure it must have looked to Tonks as if she were listening, but after the basics were imparted she disengaged from the Auror's explanations.

He's just a wizard? But how?

It must be a trick.

Even if it isn't ... what does it matter? I can't .. they can't expect me to see him on the streets and just pretend it's okay?

"I see," Vector offered stiffly after the other woman had finished speaking and seemed to be expecting some sort of response. "I'm sorry to have caused a fuss."

She stood on unsteady legs.

"I can't promise you I won't bring anything else like this to your attention, but for now I think it best that I go home."
Tonks restrained herself from offering the professor a hug or at least a hand on her arm. She looked so brittle, as if too much pressure in the wrong area would cause a catastrophic break.

"I'll get my broom and see you to Hogwarts, then."

She shook her head when Vera tried to protest. "You're in no shape to go out there alone — at least let me contact someone."
At this hour? Who?

Vera tucked her wand back in place and began to put herself back together.

"I think I'm in need of fresh air." Warm, summer air. Perhaps with some screaming at the lake for theraputic purposes. "A walk will do me good."
"Suit yourself." Tonks went to the other room and fetched her cloak from the hook.

"I'll walk you to the front gates." Vera could protest all she wanted, but Tonks wasn't going to just let the woman wander off, not in the state she was in. Once inside the walls, she should be safe enough.

"And if you don't mind, we'll be stopping by the park. Just to double-check those wards."
The park.

Part of Vera was alarmed at even approaching the door to the fae's world — but supposing that wasn't Vasily, then the Auror was right. It would be helpful to see that the armies of Winter weren't gathered on the lawn, waiting for their leader's return.

And it was helpful to know that her fear was being taken seriously.

"That sounds ... prudent.

"Thank you."